Brian Specht Has Retired From Baseball.

Brian debuted with a splash in 2000, beginning his career with a 12-game hitting for Lake Elsinore, which was then the Angels’ affiliate in the High-A California League. He hit 20-for-45 (.444) in that span, with five doubles, six walks, and five stolen bases. His defense was off the charts, and Storm fans coined the phrase “Spechtacular” to describe his heroics.

Specht intended to go to Baylor on a medical scholarship, but the Angels enticed him into the pro ball ranks by drafting him in the 9th round of the June 1999 draft. According to news reports, he was paid the equivalent of a third-round bonus.

At age 19, he was called up to Lake Elsinore out of extended spring training when the Storm ran short of middle-infielders in mid-May 2000. Brian’s stay was supposed to be only a few games, but his performance kept him in the Cal League the rest of the season.

In the spring of 2001, Baseball America anointed him the Angels #3 prospect, behind Joe Torres and Francisco Rodriguez, ahead of future major leaguers John Lackey, Chris Bootcheck, Derrick Turnbow, Matt Wise, Gary Johnson, Tommy Murphy, Alfredo Amezaga, Ervin Santana, Scot Shields, Steve Green, Bart Miadich, Bobby Jenks, Matt Hensley, and Shawn Wooten.

But the crystal ball is never clear about such matters, and no one could have foreseen the injuries that would eventually destroy his career — hamstring pulls, torn shoulders, rib cage pulls, and in the end a chronic bad back.

When healthy, he impressed. Brian was named the Angels’ top rookie in their 2004 spring training camp, receiving the Fred Haney Award. But yet another injury felled him as the season began.

Life is never fair, and we’re reminded of that when a top prospect’s bright future fades because of injury. If life were fair, each player would succeed or fail on his own merits. But Brian never got that chance.

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